Is This Really Middle School Education???

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by collegefbfan889, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. collegefbfan889

    collegefbfan889 Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2007

    What is the deal with middle school education? It seems like the students are just pushed through these grades.

    Please forgive me for ranting, fussing, etc. But I am beginning to feel like the whole education system is like Enron. Very unfair. I mean is anyone on here going through the same situations?

    Point #1) The students that deserve to fail, for the most part, are passed anyway. It has been that way in my last decade of teaching. I really don't know how one of the most important institutions can do this. Point #2) When are the parents going to be held accountable? The state that I teach in has a report card for each school. The school is graded. The students get a report card. The teachers get a report card in an indirect manner. It is based on how our students do on the state standardized tests. When are the parents going to get their report card? Point #3) It seems that the students start caring when they reach high school (that is 9th grade where I teach). Shouldn't middle school count more? Maybe our students will do better in all areas if they had to actually "graduate" from middle school.

    I am 33 years old, and I don't remember it being this way when I was in school. When does this system we know of as education change back to what it once was?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 18, 2007

    I'ts not that way everywhere!

    I'm in a Catholic Jr/Sr HS on Long Island. This is my first year teaching the middle schoolers.

    I can assure that they're held accountable! Anyone who fails in June atttends summer school; if they don't pass the exam at the end, they're out. The administration backs up at every turn. (the other day, a parent wrote requesting a weekly update from us. The administration told us not to answer; they would contact her and tell her that it was unreasonable.)

    I don't think it's middle school-- I think you're in the wrong school. Go somewhere where your work is valued.
     
  4. collegefbfan889

    collegefbfan889 Rookie

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    The fact is I teach in the biggest county in the state. It is that way at every middle school here. It is like the students are being shoved through for the most part.

    Also, I taught summer school math last year. There were some kids that came in and slept 75% of the time. When I averaged grades, these students should have failed and came back to 8th grade. They were all pushed through to the 9th grade.

    Kids that are "too old" or if the admin thinks that the kid failing the grade will do nothing for him/her, then the kid is passed on. or what we call "socially promoted".

    Any other ideas?
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jan 18, 2007

    I hear you. I LOVE where I work...yet, students are most certainly pushed through the system. The whole "slipping through the crack" thing is totally irrelevant - it is a gaping whole!
     
  6. kevo2005

    kevo2005 Companion

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    Jan 18, 2007

    I was a teacher assistant in high school, and I know it is our school's district policy to not give anyone a grade below a 60 on a report card.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    And some people wonder where No Child Left Behind came from... I'm not saying NCLB was well thought out or that it gets implemented intelligently - but clearly there's an issue here and it's huge.
     
  8. kirsten

    kirsten New Member

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    Jan 18, 2007

    We complained enough last year that administration did "fail" some kids last year - but it's a double edged sword. First of all, they are maturing at very different rates so we now have very immature 6th graders in the same building with some VERY mature 8th graders. Second of all, we now have a double dose of thugs for the year. 4 or 5 really disruptive boys in each class that just tear our entire day up every single day. These are kids who are not going to graduate anyway - they are biding their time until they turn 16. It doesn't benefit them to hold them back and it certainly doesn't benefit the kids who are there to learn. I think we need to take a tougher stance on parents in this state. When any of these guys get in trouble, you either can't get a hold of a parent, or if you do, they come in and blame everybody but the kid. I have a friend who told me in her country, if kids are suspended or absent from school - all forms of public assistance are withheld. How's that for motivation to get off your butt and support the teacher?
     
  9. collegefbfan889

    collegefbfan889 Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2007

    I love my job. I really like showing these kids what they can actually do. My parents were both into doing drugs and selling them also. There is no excuse to prevent yourself from being successful.

    About No Child Left Behind. Now, you all think with me here for a minute. Let us say that every kid in America graduates high school, graduates from college, and is looking for a job. Will there be enough jobs in this country to go around to every kid that did not get left behind? Honestly, check the unemployment rates in some places. Is this education deal that Bush created realistic?

    Now back to my post and your replies. I was wondering if this was happening JUST where I taught. I have looked up some info on "social promotion" and the practice of "retaining" students. They both have their good and bad points.

    I just wonder when this whole thing is going to come full circle. When are the students and parents going to be held accountable?

    Where I teach there is a thing called "Safe Harbor". Anyone ever heard of it? It has something to do with attendance and standardized test scores. If your school meets "Safe Harbor", then the standardized test scores don't have to increase as much from year to year. Or something like that. Well, now "Safe Harbor" is, in some ways, preventing students from getting suspended. I mean a student would have to practically commit a felony to be suspended. As we know, when a student is suspended, this affects the attendance rate in the school.

    I am really just fed up with what education is and would be happier if education is what it should be.
     
  10. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I have a student that I would like to hold back. But because he has an IEP I can't. I really think it would be to his benefit. I'm going to try and get him held back. Also, my students where not taught anything for two years! So they are all behind. I feel bad for my 8th grader. but I can't keep him back. He is passing his classes this year. But I am going to recommend he takes general classes in HS.
     
  11. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jan 18, 2007

    Our elementary seems to allow parents to have more say in whether thier child advances to the next grade than the staff. We have a student that isn't ready for our grade and our year is almost over! The parent won't hold the kid back because of a "kid" in the previous grade (small school). Umm...education is the issue here. This is just one tiny case scenario in a big sea of parental control.
     
  12. Mrs_Goatess

    Mrs_Goatess Comrade

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    Jan 18, 2007

    Working in ms last year, we had a few students that were "pushed through" to high school, and thus not held accountable. The main reasons were these students 1) had already been withheld in 8th grade from the previous year, and 2) they were discipline problems that admin felt the high school had "better resources for dealing with". Also, these students were viewed as a "corrupting force" among the general population. (Are we talking about kids anymore or prisoners?!)
     
  13. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2007

    It's not that way at my school, thank God. But, I definitely believe it happens a lot of places. I teach in MS, and it seems like kids are passed through until they get to 7th grade for jr. high. Since I teach 7th grade, I've had to preach a lot about how kids actually can fail. Some still haven't gotten the point, and others have gotten their butts in line QUICKLY. Yet, I do teach a 7th grader who is a repeater from last year... and he is 15... yes, I repeat, 15.... Um, I was 17 when I graduated from high school. Are you freakin' serious.... Sigh, he's failing again.... hmmmm
     
  14. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Jan 19, 2007

    There must be a reason why he is failing. Does he have a learning disability? Bad home life? Has any one actually tried to help him?
     
  15. collegefbfan889

    collegefbfan889 Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2007

    Sometimes, bad home life is used as an excuse. I grew up in a home where both my parents were drug users and sellers. I woke up one morning about 3:00 a.m. and saw my mom and dad cooking cocaine on the stove in empty baby food jars.

    I feel free to share this when parents bring up a bad home life is the reason their child is failing.

    The real reason this child could be failing is: he doesn't care, he doesn't know the material, and/or other things occupy his time, i.e. computer, video games, television.
     
  16. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Some students need a good role model to do the work. If they don't have a good home life that encourages them to complete the work than they may fail. Or if they have to much on their plate, Taking care of all the other children. Not every child is going to behave the same with a bad home life. Obviously you were stronger than some children.
    Maybe the child needs a teacher to take a special interest in helping him. Sometimes that doesn't work. But sometimes it does.
    I had a student once that went home and drank every night with her mother. Some how we became close. I would help her with her homework after school. She ended up with all A's that year (8th grade). When I moved away things went down hill with her again.
    I did talk to her a lot on the phone. She got her G.E.D. and now has an associates degree. She also, moved 3500 miles across the country. She does not drink or use drugs any more. She works two jobs, and is planning on getting married to a nice guy. Sometimes it just takes some one to care.
     
  17. kirsten

    kirsten New Member

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Our school is now talking about a bridge program - in the distant future. Not sure what that would look like, but smaller classes for these kids, which would mean more attention and might make up for lack of support and interest from home??
     
  18. musicbean

    musicbean Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2007

    My school goes from K to 8, and high school is 9 to 12. We are not allowed to "retain" (fail) kids in the elementary school unless parents agree (doesn't happen often), and first we have to examine all the reasons why they can't pass (do they need modifications, exemptions, etc.). So I know that I have passed kids through grade 7 who should not have gone, because I was told that I had no choice. I once had a student (who had failed every subject area) that said it didn't matter because he was going on to high school anyway. What a crock!
     
  19. collegefbfan889

    collegefbfan889 Rookie

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    I have done a little research on "Social Promotion" vs. "Retaining Students". I know each one has its good and bad points. It is ironic though. The first week of school, the prinicipal calls each grade level to the auditorium one at a time. One of the first things he tells them is if you don't do the work, you will not pass. Then, the end of the school year arrives, and he asks pertaining to a student that has done very little work at all, "What will this student gain from failing the grade?"

    How about in real life, this student can't do 40% work and expect to have and keep a job.

    If a student is promoted, and he/she did not earn it, then some sort of plan should be put in place for him/her to catch up next school year. This could mean staying after school 2 - 4 days per week.

    You want irony? I work a job, and I pay my taxes. Some of this money goes to welfare. I could be drug tested at any moment. How come the people receiving welfare aren't drug tested to get their money?
     
  20. logan_morgan

    logan_morgan Rookie

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    In our district - and I found out it's a state policy - parents have the ultimate final say on retention. I teach 6th grade and if we are considering retention, we complete retention scales and surveys that measure the likelihood that retention will actually benefit the student. I see both sides - I have retained students and it's not made much of a difference, and I have retained students and it was the best thing we could have done. We have a technicality that protects us from parents who want to sue us when their kids don't succeed in later grades (yes, a parent tried it in our district, unsuccessfully). If kids get failing grades, they are not promoted to the next grade; they are assigned by the parents and the parents have to come in and sign what amounts to a waiver that states they know that their student likely doesn't have the skills to be successful but wants them moved to the next grade regardless. 99% of the parents sign on the dotted line. Sad but true. What I dislike more, though, are the parents that sit at the first conferences, threatening the kid with retention if the grades don't come up. When it doesn't happen, the parent loses all credibility.

    On the opposite end, I have a student this year who started out in seventh grade - was in our school last year and didn't pass but was signed on by the parent. Once the student got to 7th grade and was getting in trouble constantly, getting suspended and academically in over their head, the parent petitioned the district to have him come back to 6th grade. The district fought it but the state said that the parent had the right to choose the best placement for their child. So now I have a student who's repeating 6th grade and creating nothing but problems! It's so nice that bureaucrats make choices and we get to live with them.
     
  21. Commartsy

    Commartsy Companion

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    I'm curious about this. Why weren't your students taught anything for two years?
     
  22. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Because the person that was suppose to teach them was to lazy. She would sit in the office and assign them work to do on their own.
    They are doing really well this year. But I am worried about my 8th grader. I don't think he is going to do well in high school. I asked to have him tested for special ed. Was told no they won't. That he will just have to grow up. Also was told I can not keep him back because he won't gain anything from it.
     
  23. CmsTigerGuy

    CmsTigerGuy Rookie

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    Let's not kid ourselves, people. The sole purpose of NCLB is to declare public education a failure and privatize it.
     
  24. bettyb

    bettyb Companion

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    You are describing our middle school. I have had parents yell at me when I call them to ask for help when a student is not doing work. If they have a zero, it is our responsibility to call. If the work doesn't come in, we are expected to call again. I actually stopped calling some parents because I couldn't deal with the pressure. I agree that maybe they should be getting a report card too.
     
  25. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Ummm... do they think letting a child move ahead is going to help him? That is just ridiculous. Why won't they test him?
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    That may have been the original intent, but it's gotten backing from plenty of people whose agenda is not to privatize public education; those people's concerns need to be addressed, not dismissed.
     
  27. txteach2b

    txteach2b Comrade

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    I have to agree w/ this statement. One person I know in particular withdrew money from her TANF to buy cigarettes and marijuana. That is totally ridiculus.

    I really do believe the parents aren't being held as accountable as they should be. I read somewhere that if a child had been caught skipping school in this one district that the parent had to actually serve detentions, and that was to go for tardies as well. I thought that was a good idea. The parent becomes aware of truancy, and they hash things out w/ the kiddos.

    I work as an aide in a Sp. Ed., and I have heard the home life excuse a lot. Just because you might have a hard home life doesn't mean you have to do poor in school. A lot of the kids take advantage of that fact, and they just blame their actions on the home, and they don't take responsibility, just play the blame game.

    Ok, I'm off my soapbox.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2007
  28. Mr. Windchill

    Mr. Windchill Rookie

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    Feb 3, 2007

    I teach 9th and 10th grade Social Studies. Unfortunately, I have far too many students who I feel do not posses the basic reading and writing skills that are taught in the elementary/middle school years of education. There is no concept of pausing when they come across a comma, or stopping after a period, etc. My tests have short answer questions, but no essays because I would go nuts trying to read their writing (no concept of grammar, poor spelling across the board, common abbreviations for letters/IM/text messaging, etc.). Despite teaching history, I feel reading/writing and proper execution should be learned and practiced before moving up grades.

    At the beginning of the school year during a faculty meeting, the question was asked about how we as teachers can teach "across the curriculum"--incorporating other subjects into ours. Our department proposed the idea of correcting for spelling/grammar. It did not take me long to realize if I checked for correct spelling/grammar, I would end up spending much more time devoted to that than factual content for a paper on a relevant social studies topic.

    Collegefbfan889 ... THANK YOU for backing my belief that despite the home environment, anyone can be successful if they focus on giving a great effort in school opposed to a great effort at making excuses.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    It's no consolation to you, I'm sure, Mr. Windchill, that I can say the same of my students - who are almost without exception post-bachelor's.
     
  30. bettyb

    bettyb Companion

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    Sometimes it is effective to choose one paragraph to edit for grammar and spelling. Put a checkmark by the paragraph you choose to let the students know that any paragraph can be edited. This is a quick way to keep them on their toes.
     
  31. Commartsy

    Commartsy Companion

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    What is really strange is that teachers from kindergarten up teach those writing skills. For the longest time I wondered what in the world was going on before my students got to me...then my own children started school. I was amazed to see what kids get in kindergarten and first grade! (As far as I'm concerned, lower elementary teachers are miracle workers.)

    Anyway, the kids come to you having been repeatedly over these rules. When my students come to me, I am very clear about my expectations for their work. On our team, the kids seem to start out the year thinking that writing correctly is only important in my class. I'll be seeing some really good work, and the rest of the team is seeing nonsense! Once the students realize that writing expectations are the same for all classes, they do much better.
     
  32. bettyb

    bettyb Companion

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    I agree with Commartsy that you have to hold them accountable. If grammar counts as part of the actual grade, some students will step up to the plate and write correctly. Students in kindergarten and first grade can write correct sentences.
     
  33. b-radical

    b-radical Companion

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    Feb 9, 2007

    Middle school teachers ask the same questions about elementary school teachers.

    As a middle school ELA teacher, I'm stunned that I am teaching sixth graders that don't have decipherable handwriting, can't use basic punctuation, and can't follow basic instructions. The problem, however, is not with teachers. Teachers are being held accountable to federal standards that dumb us all down.

    You're right about parents being held accountable. Students should be held accountable, too. That's what we're trying to do. It seems, however, that the federal government disagrees...
     
  34. bettyb

    bettyb Companion

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    One has to wonder when the breakdown begins. Kindergarten kids are so concerned about quality and doing everything right. You are right on about sixth graders. Somehow, the quality thing has been lost for a lot of them. Since parents see their kids' work from day one, it seems like they would notice when things are getting a bit sloppy and remind their kids of quality work. Unfortunately, sometimes that's all the kids will turn in, so teachers are forced to accept the unacceptable. I have given assignments back for students to redo many times only to find that the revised work was never completed.
     
  35. JVP

    JVP New Member

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    I think that accountability in middle school really differs between state. I was born and raised in NY. I graduated from highschool in 2002 so it hasn't been that long since I was a K-12 student. Additionally, I have siblings who were in Middle School when I graduated. Anyway, when I was in middle school I had to pass all of my classes. In addition I took standardized exams each year. If a student failed 2 classes he or she risked retention. All of my classes had equal weight. I had to pass Spanish just like I had to pass Math and Language Arts. However, I'm in Georgia now (I came for college). In my student teaching experience I saw that it didn't matter what students did as long as they passed the math and reading test. In some cases, students didn't take Science (5th grade). In my student teaching experience, I learned that parents want to tell teachers how to do their jobs without making sure the students do theirs. Students are absent all of the time regardless of illness. In addition, parents will complain that the work is too hard and complain about homework. I had one student who didn't do a portion of a math assignment because her parent told her it is not relevant to life. This was at a "good school". I was shocked at the attitude towards education. Students are missing several days of school to go skiing or for "wellness" days. When I was in school in NY the attendance rates were good (though students would cut once they got to school).
     
  36. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Welcome to education in the 21st century

    More posts will come, this one is just to get it off my chest
     
  37. b-radical

    b-radical Companion

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    Irish, huh? Love that one--I'm from sturdy Irish stock myself!

    Three months ago I would have had a completely different response to your post, and I completely agree with what you're saying regarding accountability.

    But today I sat with one of my students from this last year as she received her chemo. She will be 12 on Sunday. Sitting with a student who is battling cancer is a part of being a teacher, too. I didn't know that until this past April when this student asked me if I could visit her in the hospital.

    She gave me a bracelet today with this message engraved in tiny letters: "Let me be a teacher of knowledge who will guide our youth and grant the necessary understanding."

    Having a student with cancer has made me pause and wonder if my umbrella called "teaching" isn't a mite too small...
     
  38. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    In my school, we use a pass/place system. If you meet the curriculum outcomes for the grade, you pass. Otherwise you will generally get placed. I believe their is the possibility of retention, but it is really rare. . . My problem is that I have kids that tell me it is impossible to fail, you'll get "passed" anyways. It is very hard to motivate them!!

    What do you do with the lid whi is capable but lazy? If someone doesn't pass in assignments, or is late with them all the time, then I believe there should be a consquence.

    Which brings me to the question of adaptions and modifications. If a kid struggles with regular work, we begin w/ adaptions. They are still working on the same curriculum outcomes as everyone else, but with help (e.g. resource, fewer problems, orally testing, typed notes, etc.). They are also passed into the next grade - not placed. Though I understand the reasoning behind it, both the parents and the kid is given the message that they are ready for the next grade.

    It's all a bit confusing. I do believe that retention will often harm a child socially and emotionally, but there must be a solution in the middle. I like the idea of summer school, but in a small school district, that is not an option. Anyways, that's my 2 cents worth. It is interesting reading other people's viewpoints.
     
  39. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 22, 2007

    As a mom, I can help explain:

    With your oldest child, it's hard to notice the difference between acceptable "beginner's attempts" and sloppiness. When they first start to print, for example, you don't expect perfect letters. It's hard with your oldest to know just what level of perfection to expect and when.

    Things don't deteriorate... they just don't accelerate at the rate that teachers want. And as a parent, it's hard to judge what level is acceptable.
     
  40. bettyb

    bettyb Companion

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    Possibly some parents start off really checking their children's work and then just trust that it stays at an acceptable level. Some students turn in work that isn't even complete. I have also received made up answers letting me know that they didn't even read the assigned work.
     
  41. hapyeaster

    hapyeaster Rookie

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    My son will be in 3rd grade this next year. He has a 504 in place for ADHD and he also has Asperger's Syndrome. I have fought tooth and nail to get him help for his writing. It is deplorable, and he can't help it! However, they ( the diagnostician and teachers, and even the admin at his 504 meeting) did not seem concerned in helping him write more legible. This will be his first year in high stakes testing, and next year will be his writing TAKS! If the teachers were not so hard pressed to teach to this darn test, then they could take the time to work with him and would see it as a problem. But, because he is not TESTED on how well he can write, it is not a big issue. I think the real reason they won't put him back in SPED is because he is so bright, and those spots have to be reserved for just the very few that might not be able to pass TAKS.

    Not sure where I was headed with this...I think it was the handwriting post that triggered me! LOL!!

    I have 8th graders that I can't read their work. I was worried about teaching 8th grade, and struggling to be able to write cursive myself. Heck, they don't require it at my school. I have trouble getting girls not to write in IM slang and use 300 colors of ink.

    Next year, PENCIL or BLACK INK ONLY!!! But, I still don't know how to handle papers that I can't read...heck, I can't read my son's!!
     

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